Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass

9780764351259The PopCult Bookshelf

The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass
by Joyce Grant
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
ISBN-13: 978-0764351259
$24.99

The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass is an absolute treasure. Pure eye candy, this book is a long overdue tribute to one of the most prolific toy inventors in American history. Joyce Grant has compiled an amazing archive of images of the toys designed by Marvin Glass and Associates.

Marvin Glass was a toy inventor of humble beginnings who formed his toy design and engineering firm in Chicago in 1941. MGA became the first independent design firm in the toy industry, placing their creations with different toy firms, eventually creating a stable of iconic toys that were manufactured by Hasbro, Mattel, Ideal, Milton Bradley, the Marx Toy Company, and dozens of other toymakers.

The roll call of toys invented by Marvin Glass and Associates includes such classics as Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, the game Mousetrap, the game Operation, Mr. Machine, Lite Brite, SSP Cars, the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, Mystery Date, Inch Worm, and hundreds of other memorable toys. You will find photographs of well over a hundred of his inventions in this book.

9780764351259cThis is not an in-depth biography. Someday, somebody may research and chronicle the fascinating life of Marvin Glass, the celebrity toy inventor, a regular at the Playboy Mansion, and an absolute mogul of the toy industry who died far too young in 1974. This is not that book. The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass is essentially a lavishly-illustrated coffee table book and as such is completely successful in its mission of showing us the vast expanse of memorable toys brought to us by Marvin Glass and Associates. .

The pure nostalgic glee that a reader of a certain age will get flipping through this book is comparable only to hopping in a time machine and revisiting your favorite childhood toy store. The point driven home by collecting all these images in one book is the sheer amazing scope of how one design firm managed to create so many hugely successful toys for so many competing toy companies. MGA simultaneously had toys produced by Mattel, Hasbro, and the Marx Toy Company at a time when they were the three major companies in the business. His firm produced top selling games for Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Ideal, and Schaper.

9780764351259eWhile there are independent design firms working in the toy industry today, none of them have managed to work with every major player and none of them are big enough to actually have their logo on the toys they design, like MGA did.

Joyce Grant is an owner of TimeWarpToys.com and has authored several books on vintage collectibles. She’s done a terrific job curating these images and providing background information on Marvin Glass Associates as well as giving the reader reliable pricing data. As with any book containing information on this many different products, there are a couple of very minor mistakes where the wrong toy manufacturer is credited for a certain toy.

Given that MGA worked with almost every toy company in existence, the fact that I only caught three minor miscues is proof that this book is very well researched indeed. (The miscues, in case you were wondering, involve the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, which was made by Ideal and is credited to Kenner here and a couple of board games where the wrong manufacturer is listed–hardly earth shattering errors.)

Those tiny errors in no way affect the enjoyment of this book. It’s an absolute delight that is sure to induce squealing in almost anybody over the age of forty. The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass is a must-have book for anybody who enjoys toys, pop art, or design and engineering. From his first hit, Yakkety Yak Wind-Up Teeth through King Zor and on to Gnip Gnop, Marvin Glass had an unprecedented influence on the play habits of millions of children around the world.

This book is a must-have for any lover of classic toys.

3 Comments

  1. joyce grant

    I’m glad you have my book here.. but It would be nice if you got the name right.. Joyce Grant..
    thanks..

  2. rudy panucci

    A thousand apologies. That has been corrected. Now I will be banging my head against the desk trying to figure out how I made such a mistake.

  3. joyce grant

    thanks! I know the feeling.. and I DO know that Ideal made the stunt cycle.. just was thinking of the SSP’s when I edited that.. lol. will fix it all in 2nd edition. thanks so much for the great review.

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